Universal Access To All Knowledge
Home Donate | Store | Blog | FAQ | Jobs | Volunteer Positions | Contact | Bios | Forums | Projects | Terms, Privacy, & Copyright
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload

Reply to this post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Aug 6, 2011 12:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

Today's TDIH from Roosevelt Stadium has long been one of my absolute favorite performances from '74, ever since I first heard the great excerpts from it on Dick's Picks 31. Now that I have had the whole show for quite a while I can safely agree it's a top performance of the year.

This is one of those rare shows where I think the first set is actually better than the second. Namely, because of the stunning version of Eyes of the World that, as Cliff would say, is a possible best-ever performance, and the mesmerizing jazz-fusion jam of Playin'>Scarlet>Playin' to close out the set. This is simply as good as 1974 can get, my friends.

The second set jam medley is no certainty slouch either; a mellow and dreamy journey that always sets me right. But like I said the energy and creativity of set one is just so amazing, imho this set pales somewhat by comparison.

Unfortunately, the only copy of the show here at LMA is the audience recording, which I have heard in the review section is actually quite good, but I have personally never listened to it. No matter what version of the show you prefer, be sure to break this one out today:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd74-08-06.merin.weiner.gdADT.5914.sbefail.shnf


This post was modified by clementinescaboose on 2011-08-06 07:10:13

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Space Jogger Date: Aug 6, 2011 8:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

The audience recording is definitely worth listening to for this show. You can hear the crowd continually gasping for air as they get an all-time "Eyes" performance that sounds as if it has the powers to eviscerate the universe. Listen to Garcia lead the way into the cave to slay the dragon in the end jam.

The 1st set is super high energy. There is only one down-tempo song, which is Sugaree and that is great one, too.

I love the direction the Playin' has, as the band seems to be incredibly in control and has some of the best interplay unique to '74. As they start to transition, they get into a kind of trippy funk grove that just rocks right into an excellent Scarlet and then balls back into Playin'. Very powerful stuff.

As the 2nd set slows down He's Gone is perfect, the Spanish Jam sounds edgy in a mystical way, and the Other One rocks pretty hard.

The whole vibe of the show sounds thick and heavy, with kind of toughness or danger possible at any moment. Muscular.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: dr. flashback Date: Aug 6, 2011 1:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

Indeed, Clementine this is a monster first set. It's a pity that DP #31 chops up the show, but then 8/6/74 is a 4 CD show so I can understand the marketing concern, sort of.

Once you have the boot of all 4 CD's you can truly appreciate what a great show this is. This was their last show before heading over to Europe (which was a lackluster tour IMHO except for 9/10 and 9/18 which are quite strong) and so the Dead are really giving the Jersey fans all they've got.

This Playin>Scarlet>Playin mini sandwich is the only pairing of these 2 tunes in sandwich format I believe - I don't have my book handy. My two other favorites of this type are the earlier
Playin>UJB>Playin from 6/30/74, and the once only
Playin>Samson>Playin on 3/19/77 at Winterland.
But this 37 minute sandwich on 8/6 is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year - up there with 6/18 and 6/26
jam-wise.

I can also appreciate bkidwell's point about the nature of the post 1972 jams. Too often a great Dark Star or Playin jam in 1972 would degenerate into noise and feedback.
Which is fine if I'm in the mood for it, but other times I have to skip.
Jams in 73 and 74 tend to stay tonal and musical, with themes and development of riffs between Jerry, Phil and Keith - and rarely just turn into experimental noise.

Set Two of 8/6/74 is good, but the jam sequence of
He's Gone>Truckin>Spanish Jam>Other One lacks some of the
magic that this Playin sandwich in Set One has. Still, this
show is one of my top ten for 1974. While the Set Two jams may get only a B+, the quality of playing throughout the show is sooooo good, with the Wall sound to boot, that this show remains a favorite of mine.
As an added bonus (Bobby mentions this at the first of the show) .............. this show has special meaning for the Doctor and others my age - I was in college at the time.
This was the day Nixon announced he was resigning. If you're
too young to remember Watergate, well, you had to be there.

The inclusion of 8/4 and 8/5 in DP #31 was a nice thought,
but the whole 4 CD 8/6 would have been a better idea.

cheers,
Dr. Flashback :-)

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Old_NJ_Head_Zimmer Date: Aug 6, 2011 5:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

Doc - come around more often. Miss your posts.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Dhamma1 Date: Aug 6, 2011 7:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

Seconded. Nice to hear from you again these past few days

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 6, 2011 11:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

There seems to be alot of degenerating into noise and feedback, experimental noise and mindless jamming going on in 72'-74' era,I will have to listen more closely.With an audience like this who doesn't appreciate the band's best attempt to play inspired and inventive creative music ,it's no wonder they turned into a lame rock band with a cordoned off experimental area,drums->space.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Aug 6, 2011 10:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

Thanks Doc! It's great to hear your input. I think all us of look up to you around these parts; your show reviews have been guiding me ever since I found the IA. If only I had had such a nice resource when I was first getting into the band...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 6, 2011 10:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

I've had love for DP 31 but mostly for the first disc. It contains loads of tasty goods (only favorite j straw pre hiatus). Other than that, the other discs have left me searching for more, but I need to listen to them more to say with higher certainty. What from this show is on DP 31? I need to spend more time in 74 but for whatever reason I tend to stray from it.

Listening to the playing from this show and so far its quite killer. Sometimes I feel that 74 and some 73 get a lil too spacey and what seems to be mindless in there jams. But this is definitely great at 7 minutes in. Can't wait to hear how the Playin>Scarlet>Playin turns out.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Aug 6, 2011 11:26pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

The fourth disc of DP 31 is exceprts from 8/6. The Eyes, P>S>P and they throw in the set 2 opener UJB.

DP 31 is by far one of my favorite picks. Personally I think its the best '74 pick, more so even than DP 12 which I mainly listen to for the amazing jam from 6/28.

On Disc two of DP 31 there is a MONSTER Weather Report - definitely the highlight. Also a great Wharf Rat and Sugar Mag.

And disc three has my favorite Half-Step of '74 (check out Jerry's solo after the "across the Rio Grande" refrain - wheeeww!) It also contains the killer jam from 8/5 of He's Gone>Truckin'>Jam>Other One>Space>Stella Blue. The He's Gone is the only time I've ever heard Jerry on slide guitar during this song. The jam as a whole is cosmic, intense and funky all at once.

I'd definitely suggest checking out some more '74 in general. It's slowly become my favorite year. Might I submit these shows for your approval? 5/17, 5/19, 5/25, 6/16, 6/18, 6/20, 6/23, 7/29, 7/31. Summer tour is my favorite, but the Feb. Winterland run is great too. There is also some hit or miss stuff during Euro '74; 9/18 is by far the best of those.

This post was modified by clementinescaboose on 2011-08-07 06:26:52

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 13, 2011 12:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

That's pretty surprising to hear 74is your favorite year. It does have a lot of unique and great jams though.

Dp12 was my first dicks picks. My brother bought it and only had the 3rd disc which contains some excellent stuff. I jammed hard to the promised > gdtrfb> ssdd as a sophomore in high school. I never reached out to the wrs medley jam as the spacey long jams weren't my thing early on. I will have to listen to that tonight.

I really like the us blues from dp 7 which is euro 74, phil thumps. I see u said 6/28 is the best. It has a great long intro if I recall correctly.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 6, 2011 12:18am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Playin->Scarlet->Playin and the limits of the GD style

I was contemplating a post about this topic, and since you have started a TDIH thread, I will attach these comments.

This is definitely a spectacular Playin' jam, one that represents the kind of free improv which we find in 74 and almost nowhere else - open-ended jamming with no "assumptions" about rhythm or harmony, but which also does not transform into "noise exploration".

During the 68-72 period, the most free-form improv was usually linked to exploration of pure noise and sound, via feedback and string-scraping or "the tiger" or similar textures. In other words, if the band completely abandoned a defined key and steady rhythm, it was usually on the way to an exploration of "sound effects" of various kinds. In 73, and especially in the 74 wall of sound shows, we see the growth of "free music" which may abandon conventional harmony and rhythm, but doesn't proceed to feedback/noise. Instead, everyone keeps playing "notes, not noises" and the band explores musical ideas in a style that is usually associated with free jazz.

Given this kind of stylistic freedom, a listener might hope that the band would have been able to create smooth and interesting musical transitions between songs which did not rely on the type of "overlapping" chords and rhythmic continuity which generally provided the musical connection between songs. The 2nd set of 8/6/74 has a very characteristic example of a big "E jam complex" with He's Gone->Truckin->Spanish Jam->The Other One->GDTRFB.

The first set though has a Playin->Scarlet->Playin which, one would hope, would provide an opportunity for making connections between harmonically distant areas. Playin is centered around modes of D, and Scarlet is in B mixolydian. There are no chords in common between these keys, and Scarlet's sharp rhythmic contour contrasts strongly with Playin's smoother flow.

Unfortunately, the transitions in this sandwich suite do not work smoothly, and they do not engage with the musical challenge of transforming gracefully between distant tonalities. Scarlet doesn't segue smoothly from Playin - instead, there is a tiny pause, and Jerry starts the chord chop, and the band drops into place. Similarly, on the opposite end, the Scarlet jam concludes as usual with the same riff it began with, and then there is a sudden and jarring change back to the territory of the Playin jam. This retransition is better than the initiation of Scarlet though, it is clearly "forced" but at least it engages the musical issue.

I don't particularly "fault" the band for this, and this is certainly a magnificent performance, but I think it does represent the limitations of the band. Even at their most fluid and exploratory, there were some aspects of their potential they did not maximize. Smooth transitions between harmonically distant areas would have enlarged the scope of their art considerably, but so far as I know, they never bothered to devote the necessary effort to learn the techniques necessary to do so.

Phil Lesh referred to this in an interview, where he said the band hadn't really explored what could be done in the transitions, and he gave the example of altering the G# in the scale of "Eyes" to a G-natural to allow a transition to UJB. The problem of how you "signal" a change like this so it doesn't sound grating, and how you make sure the rest of the band hears what is going on, is very difficult, and it represents a musical frontier the band never crossed.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 6, 2011 3:04am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Playin->Scarlet->Playin and the limits of the GD style

I suppose the obvious question is, how has Phil worked out transitions between unrelated keys in his later bands?

Your post reminds me of the first time a song segued back to Playin - the Morning Dew on 10/18/72 - where it's an utterly abrupt switch from the Dew jam to the Playin jam. I guess that was easier since both songs are in D, but it still sounded like a magic trick to me!
On 11/1/73 they do a snazzy segue from the Dew jam to the start of Playin, but generally Dew was 'buffered' by Uncle John when it came inside Playin.
By '74, pretty much the only songs you'd see inside Playin were Uncle John or Wharf Rat, so going to Scarlet was thinking outside the box!
Quite a lot of segues within the Dead tend to be 'jump cuts' in any case - not only to songs, but also to new jam themes, where one player starts a different riff and then the others catch up.

I'd like to make a minor point about 'noise', as there wasn't a clearcut break between getting noisy & staying 'musical' - '73 has its share of noise, especially in the fall when the band got somewhat obsessed with feedback, and '74 has episodes as well, for instance in the 6/8 and 6/16 Playin's. ('71 is not the spaciest year, but it's struck me that the noisy episodes that year tend to be brief stops along the way, rather than the long sojourns of the next years.)

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 6, 2011 12:28pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Playin->Scarlet->Playin and the limits of the GD style

Interesting question about Phil's later projects and how transitions are handled. Honestly, I haven't listened to that much post-95 material, much less tried to be analytical about it. One thing I know is that a lot of the songs got transposed into different keys for the purposes of the singers, so as a result, what might have been a challenging transition in the GD days could be straightforward due to the songs being shifted down or up in pitch.

One comment about "free music" vs. "noise music" (apropos of Dr. Flashback and Jerlouvis' comments) - I was not intending any negative connotation with the latter term, and I think the meltdown/insect fear/martian invasion style is valid and important. As LIA pointed out, there is actually plenty of this style in 73-74, the "free jazz" style didn't necessarily replace the meltdowns, it just became an alternative. There are plenty of jams in this era which explore the noise style, the free jazz style, or both.

One post I hope to make sometime (LIA said he might start taking note of my projected future posts and making me accountable for them, so here is another one) is some comments on the non-GD prehistory of atonality and its audience reception. In my perspective on the band, one of their most important achievements was playing "challenging" music that the audience actually appreciated - in contrast to how the atonal music of 20th century composers tended to be received by audiences.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 6, 2011 5:16pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Playin->Scarlet->Playin and the limits of the GD style

Yes, I'm making a list and checking it twice - I will add another to your list of proposed future projects! See, if you didn't waste so much time on this forum you could actually write something... :)

Actually, I thought you might be mentioning something about later jam-bands that perhaps offered technically more varied transitions than the Dead did. But....hmm, if you don't listen to any, but you do listen to the "limited" Dead, perhaps that says something about the value of perfect technique!
I gather the technically-obsessed jazz-fusion bands might not be up your alley (Garcia famously complained that they never really improvised like the Dead did) - but I wondered if you might be into '70s "prog" music like Yes or King Crimson or such...

It's true that the Dead did achieve something in turning audiences on to new kinds of music they hadn't been exposed to...whether it was people who hadn't heard free-jazz, or goodness knows, people who were unfamiliar with country music...
There are a couple things to note about that, though - one being that the Dead carried their own "appreciation environment" with them, playing to audiences who were utterly zonked-out & receptive to anything (or at least willing to wait patiently through the parts they didn't like) - and the other being that the decade they came out of saw an explosion of strange or non-traditional music being offered to the masses. (The Beatles are a case in point, smuggling things like Indian music or orchestral freakouts or Revolution no. 9 on their albums under the umbrella of 'pop music.') So the Dead may be less unique in terms of the '60s than they are in terms of earlier avant-garde music.

As far as transposing keys, the Dead did do that for one song - China Cat, which is in a different key in '68 than when it came back in '69. I thought of asking you whether there were transitions in '68 or '69 where the Dead crossed keys... In early '68 they mostly do the same few segues repeatedly, but in '69 there are some odd transitions, and China Cat in particular went into any number of songs before they rediscovered Rider.

I am also somewhat bewildered by people who aren't into the "nonsensical, meaningless" noise-fests the Dead offered...but hey, that's OK, who likes everything? I'm not into Bob's cowboy tunes, so I guess I will never hear the true beauty of Mexicali Blues or El Paso or whatnot...

From the band's perspective, though, it's important to remember that they were into everything they played, in whatever style...and Noise was extremely important to them. Even though there were many periods (sometimes entire years) where they didn't bring on the noise, the pursuit of weird, discordant sounds is a constant through their history. They ended so many shows in '68-69 with bouts of feedback (and even released it on two albums!) - slipped in some kind of meltdown or scarily chaotic section into practically every show in '72-73 - and did more-or-less strange & freaky Spaces through their last 16 years. If anything, I'd say that's the very heart of Dead music!

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 6, 2011 6:34pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Playin->Scarlet->Playin and the limits of the GD style

The subject of exactly how the transitions worked is one of those "infinitely deep" research topics that is a bit daunting to contemplate. There are certainly numerous examples of transitions between songs that are in quite different keys and/or rhythms - in general, in all eras, I think the more contrasting the harmonies and rhythms are, the more likely it is the transition will be an abrupt "splice" rather than something smooth. That isn't a hard and fast rule, but I don't have any really strong counterexamples to cite off the top of my head.

When I think of China Cat in 68, I tend to think of the DS->China Cat->11 sequence, and China Cat was in E back then? That puts it in the same place as St. Stephen so it fits in that sequence the same way.

I should add a disclaimer that I don't have perfect pitch so I am not necessarily 100% reliable as to the harmonic content of jams - at some point maybe I will figure out a way to have a small keyboard in my computer area so I can test chords and scales against what the band is playing. My acoustic piano is in a different room and is flat relative to the band's usual pitch, anyway.

One interesting thing about the China Cat transposition is that they transposed the singing portion but left some of the instrumental portion in the original key. This creates some really nice harmonic contrast within the song and improves its musical content quite a bit, in my opinion.

EDIT: Forgot to say anything about prog-rock. I like King Crimson very much, in all of the various configurations. They also did some quite good live improv. I'm not much of a fan of the rest of the prog genre, it usually sounds contrived to me. The "classical" elements often seem superficial, like printing a text in Ye Olde Tyme font.

This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-08-07 01:34:41

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Aug 7, 2011 8:29am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Playin->Scarlet->Playin and the limits of the GD style

King Crimson, especially in their 73-74 period, and especially live , is a great recommendation to fans of the Dead's more "jam" oriented stuff from this period .
The EARLY albums of Weather Report, and Return to Forever, also are relevant .
The jams are the stuff I like most of the band, the steak of the show if you will( sorry vegetarians )!, But I also like the salad, vegetables, and potato also . I think it was a matter of balance .

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 6, 2011 1:24pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Playin->Scarlet->Playin and the limits of the GD style

I always find it interesting how people can't accept the music for what it is,but feel the need to want to put their spin on it or have it played in a way that is more conducive to their liking it.I mean if you have listened to the music from 72'-74' it is very clear that they are expressing themselves through rather atonal and edgy soundscapes and to chose to call the resultant music mindless or experimental noise,seems to miss the point.They must have looked out in the audience after playing some exhilarating stuff,and had the blank stoned hippie stare looking back at them,kick off Sugar Mag and let the mindless hippie ass shaking begin.Pathetic,such good music wasted on such a lame audience.Weir commented that they had to temper the edgier stuff due to the lack of sophistication of the audience,and not for anything but a very small portion of the show was dedicated to exploring the edgier side of their musical personality.I often wonder how different a legacy Garcia would have left if he never rejoined the band after the hiatus.It would undoubtedly have allowed him more leeway in musical projects and partners,and not having a stadium full of expectant rock fans,but rather a smaller audience interested in his music for what it was,would have been a very freeing experience for him from an artistic standpoint.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 6, 2011 2:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

Well, I personally share a lot of your perspective, I am much more interested and excited by the GD's large scale improvisation than any other aspect of their music. I confess that I often skip right to the jam-heart of whatever I am listening to, and unless it is a particularly wonderful show in both performance and recording, I don't necessarily listen to many of the "just songs" unless they are my particular favorites.

At the same time, I don't think the Grateful Dead themselves (with the exception of Phil) really shared that perspective. I think that most of the band, most of the time, preferred playing relatively straightforward material, and thought of themselves as a "rock dance band" more than anything else. There are many comments in interviews about how the band was inspired by dancing - Jerry talks about trying to play in ways that match the inherent rhythms of how bodies move.

I also don't think that Jerry Garcia would have made a lot of challenging free music if he had ditched the Grateful Dead post 75. By the evidence of his collaborations and solo projects, I'd say he was moving AWAY from experimental and highly open music in his own musical taste. Certainly the JGB is always much less challenging than the GD, and by the end of his life, his collaborations with Grisman seem to show him coming "full circle" back to the folk-based traditional music that he was involved with in his pre-GD career.

I agree that the GD audience was never at any time a marvel of musical knowledge and sophistication, but it was a lot more open-minded and interested in the music and willing to listen to "strange music" than the average audience for any relatively popular music! I'd rather take a glass-half-full perspective on these things. It's not as if there is a profusion of successful bands which did a better job than the GD at expanding the boundaries of their art, the GD musical style still seems to me to be a rather solitary pinnacle. The later wave of "jam bands" are usually pretty weak, from a musical standpoint, at least to my ears, though I confess I haven't made an extensive search through the genre for more interesting music.

For any great musician or ensemble, one can always imagine how it could have been "even better" - if only Mozart and Schubert hadn't died so young, if only Chopin had learned to compose for more instruments than just the piano, if only Shostakovich hadn't been censored and oppressed by the soviet government, etc.

The fusion of styles inherent in the GD's approach means, I think, that every listener will have a different sense of what they wish the band had done more. After all, many listeners would prefer that the band focused more on melodic, dance-friendly jamming, or instead focused more on songwriting and the acoustic side - the conventional perspective is that "American Beauty" is the best thing the band ever recorded, and I honestly can't really even stand to listen to that record, it just sounds bland to me! I love the songs in live performance, but most of the album is meh. Only "Attics" really seems to shine for me. Sorry for the sacrilege!

So, even though I personally wish the Grateful Dead had written a lot more fugues than they did (zero fugues, sigh) I can't really fault them for it, and similarly with pursuing their more dissonant side.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 6, 2011 5:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

Bkidwell,I also for the most part only listen to the more jam oriented portion of the catalog,and fully grasp that the band considered themselves a rock dance band.I can't speculate on what type of music Jerry might have made post 75' if on his own,to compare it to what he actually did do with his non-Dead projects seems unfair because those were straight ahead bar band like projects due to that fact that he was in the GD and couldn't donate more time and focus on them.I would like to think he would have been able to produce a more varied and interesting body of work.As for his 76'-79' Dead output,I wouldn't miss it if he had done something else,there is a good chance it might have been better.

Where the audience is concerned I don't find being a cut above your average grouping of morons to be any consolation in the fact that your average Gd crowd musical IQ was so low the band had to dumb their music dowm.I strongly doubt when Coltrane composed something or had an idea during a live performance he had to consider the intelligence of his listeners.I think they could have propelled it a few steps further by challenging the audience,instead of caving in to their lameness.I have no opinion or interest in the studio work of the band,and other than sheer stupidity of saying Brent is a better musician than Keith I can think of nothing I would consider sacrilege.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 6, 2011 5:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

Even though I personally much prefer long, exploratory improvisation to a sequence of simple, standalone songs, I don't think that my taste is necessarily "better" than that of someone who enjoys other things more. The foundation of the art of music is simple songs, and if someone prefers the 1970 acoustic sets to the 45-minute Playin' from 74, I can understand and respect that preference. I enjoy simple, traditional music making a lot, I just enjoy large scale complexity and intensity even more.

I also think trying to please the audience, to create a good experience for them, is a big part of what the band was doing - I don't think taking an "art for art's sake, who cares if they like it" viewpoint to an extreme would have been an improvement. The feedback between the band and audience was important to them.

In many ways I think the contrast and distance between the different types of music performed is a source of strength, not a weakness. The really far-out passages have more impact when they are set into relief against more conventional music. "The tiger" wouldn't seem very mind-melting and interesting if it wasn't juxtaposed and in tension with simple, songful material. It is the combination of multiple elements within the same frame that elevates a lot of what the band did.

If you look at any single element in the band's vocabulary - blues, rock, folk, thematic improvisation, "free" improv, space/feedback, whatever - there are probably other bands which do it better! I don't think they could out-Coltrane Coltrane so to speak.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 6, 2011 7:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

The Dead did aim for contrast - their shows were almost like variety shows. Not just over the length of a show, but also within a jam, they liked to skip from one style to another, and maybe throw a wildly different song or two in there for a change of pace... That was, after all, what started this thread!

"There are probably other bands which do it better..." In some areas, yes... Playing regular "songs" was many times, I think, the band's weak point. But in the way they jammed together, I'm not sure if they've been equaled... After all, the saying goes, "they're the only ones who do what they do..."

This is one guy's amusing set of reviews about the Dead - in his view, they were thoroughly mediocre in everything they did! (Except when they were awful...)
http://starling.rinet.ru/music/dead.htm

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: rastamon Date: Aug 6, 2011 7:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

wow, very well said bekidwell!

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 6, 2011 9:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

I enjoy a good deal of the bands repertoire,and at no point stated what I like as being better than anything.I also suggested no changes in the way they performed or presented their music,as a matter of fact I questioned why folks could not accept the music for what it is.I find it a shame that the band felt it did not have the audiences support in exploring their music to the fullest.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 6, 2011 10:10pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

I didn't mean to sound like I was projecting judgments or opinions onto your post. The process of discussing the band always involves expressing preferences and making both positive and critical statements, if I make a "contrasting point" I'm not necessarily trying to invalidate the statement I'm responding to. I appreciate your extensive listening to the band, your understanding of adventurous jazz, and the perspective you bring to your comments - just like I believe different tastes than mine are valid, I wasn't intending to negate anything you said.

I also feel the same way you do - in a more perfect world, the band's audience would have had even deeper musical understanding, and the band would had been able to dig more deeply into some elements of the music. After all, this branch of discussion was started by me "complaining" about how the band never learned a technique for a smooth extended transition between distant keys which don't share chords or a tonic note.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 7, 2011 8:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

I would have to say that your that your post did seem very judgmental,and also seemed to address points I did not make, rather directly,so it seemed that I had made said points.I understand how the back and forth of the conversation here works and at no time took issue with anything in your responses,you could not be a more of a live and let live person than I am,I always enjoy our conversation and find your viewpoints on the music fresh and original,this time it seemed we were having two different conversations.It was not a big deal,just confusing.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 7, 2011 9:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

Yeah, I understand the confusion. A lot of times, when I respond to a post, I'm not necessarily responding to the post itself, I'm responding to my own thoughts that the post triggered, not the post itself, if that makes sense. Sometimes I think "interesting post" and click reply and then listen to the GD for thirty minutes while letting my thoughts wander and then write starting from where my thoughts have arrived. Usually there is a connection but its often somewhat indirect. I should try to make it more clear when I'm responding to something specific someone else wrote.

I have a lot of inner dialog about things like artistic purity vs. popularity, whether Beethoven really is as great as I perceive or if I'm just caught up in an outdated musical value system, memories of debates I've had with musicians I was collaborating with about how much dissonance and tension was right for a performance or composition - all kinds of issues in musical aesthetics I think are challenging to resolve.

To unwrap a few more layers, when I say something like "everyone's musical taste is valid" I don't always really believe it. On a purely experiential level, its hard not to perceive my own evaluations of good and bad as representing something objective. The nature of the art of music isn't exactly arbitrary, there is a lot of "scientific fact" about the physics of sound and how humans perceive music on the neurological level that create the framework for how music works.

Anyway, I have this big ongoing internal dialog and debate about some issues related to all these questions about what the "musical ideal" of Grateful Dead music is, how that relates to the art of music as a whole, how individual listeners respond - and your post triggered that topic for me, so what I posted ended up having more to do with my own internal debate on related subjects than what you said specifically.

This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-08-07 16:41:07

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 7, 2011 12:30pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

Understood bkidwell,the waters here can get murky on occasion,I'm fairly sure I have left a few people scratching their heads.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 6, 2011 6:08pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: limited by the audience?

(Some of this will repeat earlier posts of mine, sorry about the repetition...)

I think the band were limited by their audience in the early '70s, but I don't think any of them objected to it - if anything, they seemed to revel in the limitations.

Weir in particular has spoken about this, about how the band's music was getting too ingrown by '74 and losing the audience since no one could relate to the jams anymore (at least that was his perception) - and Jerry as well as Weir wanted the audience to follow them, and wasn't willing to push the audience too much, aside from a few of those extended full-band Seastones sets...

And there's Weir's comment how the band sometimes attempted Miles Davis-style fusion:
"Bitches Brew was groove-oriented and a clear lightpost, so we did that stuff in rehearsal all the time. We could also pull it off on stage from time to time."
Q: Did the audience always follow?
"We would take the temperature of the audience and though nobody ever discussed it, there was an understanding...that there is only so much of this that we are going to get away with, because for the most part, the audience came to hear songs. And of course we loved to deliver songs."

To me that's frustrating - I can only imagine the band doing some Miles covers in '74! But it seems the band saw the "songs" part of the show as being more accessible, and the "big jam" more of a luxury that should be kept within bounds, and sometimes dispensed with entirely...

Of course I wish the band had spent '73-74 doing more hour-long space sets, dropping all those cowboy tunes, etc... But if there's anything the Dead wanted to do, it was to connect with their audience. As youngsters in '67/68, they were happy to just freak out & play hardcore non-recognizable stuff for a whole show - but as they got older & mellower, they wanted to reach out with more accessible material. (Mickey Hart has a good comment on this somewhere that I'll look up.)

As early as '67, Jerry was scoffing at the idea that the Dead was a "psychedelic" band and claimed, 'We're really just a dance band,' and even talked about how the dancers improved the band's music. And even decades later in the Phil & Friends days, Phil was saying that the greatest honor for a musician was to play to dancers...

It is hard to say what Jerry would have done if he had dropped the Dead - but it's harder not to notice that after '75, both inside and outside the Dead, he drops much of the "experimental" stuff and goes for more straightforward music, becoming ever more traditional over time.
Jerry once called himself musically conservative, saying that although he was fascinated by technical weirdness (he cited Blues for Allah), as he got older he preferred the emotional side of music - which may be why we see him doing more traditional stuff after the coma.

While Jerry let his freak flag fly through the early '70s (Side Trips, 1/26/72, 11/28/73 or his Seastones sets are proof of that), being "weird" was one color on his palette, not what he wanted to do all the time. By the '90s, it was David Grisman he wanted to call up, not Ned Lagin or Howard Wales. I get the feeling he wanted to relax outside the Dead....maybe if there had been no Dead, we would have seen different kinds of Jerry weirdness.

And while Jerry was happy to accompany Phil on his outside journeys, there's also a feeling that there's only so much freeform space that Jerry himself would put up with within the Dead. While Weir is the most notorious for cutting off jams too soon, I think Jerry's sense of structure also determined that within a Dead show, a spacy segment would always soon head back to a familiar tune. (And I suspect that it was mainly due to Jerry that '90s Dead shows weren't structured more like, say, Phil & Friends shows....)

This was a pertinent comment from another forum:
"It's not like any of Jerry's regular side projects, pre or post-hiatus, were playing anything close to the kind of "experimental" music that the Dead were...only the stuff he did with Howard Wales seems to approach the intentional chaos that the Dead regularly flirted with... His own band always played it much straighter in terms of a "conventional music aesthetic" than the Dead did at any point in their career. If the guy really wanted to play avant-garde experimental music, then it doesn't make sense that he would have chosen to front what was essentially a bar/club cover band in his spare time... [In '75] I think the Dead all understood on some level that playing music as avant-garde as Blues For Allah or Seastones wasn't going to sustain them for very long."

The paradox is that later on, the band were quite complimentary of the audience - Hart and Garcia in particular have many comments in the '80s about how great it is to play for people who're always supportive & patient, who never object or boo, & how it gave the band "freedom" to do what they wanted. The irony being that by the time they made those comments, the band was doing less and less "outside" music!

It's worth remembering, though, that for all the band's possibilities might have been limited by being a "rock" band with a big popular audience, they still liked to jam, and frequently...we have hours & hours of Dark Stars & Playings, etc, from '72-74 alone. And that's what many in the audience loved them for and came to hear. For everyone in the audience who might've been snoozing through those endless nonsensical noodlings, there were probably two or three more who were transfixed & cheering at every glorious transition.

There's another thing to remember, too - while we all wish that the band had played more of one style or another ("oh, why didn't they do this?"), everyone in the band wished the same. Garcia pointed out that the band's music wasn't anyone's choice of what they wanted it to be - it was what they all could agree on. Lesh also said, "Nobody ever gets exactly what he wants from the Grateful Dead.”

Lesh was often upset with the others, that they couldn't play up to the standards he wanted, that they weren't listening to each other enough or willing to put more thought into the jams. "With the Grateful Dead, there’s more possible than you could ever dream of – even I could ever dream of. That’s what’s frustrating."
But he admitted that the Dead had a lot more variety by being pulled so many different directions, and if they had a "leader" their music would just become more narrow.

While Garcia saw the friction between what different bandmembers wanted, and was often disappointed in the "tension & discordancy" he heard in shows where they couldn't musically agree, he nonetheless found it rewarding to stay in an environment where everyone had their say and the music could go in more unexpected, challenging directions.
He referred to the "fixable quality" of the band: "Everybody feels this, people in the audience feel it regularly, that ‘if I could just get everybody to do what I wanted them to do, or do it the way they did it that night, it would be perfect.’"
But everyone in the band insisted that couldn't be done...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 6, 2011 7:47pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: the virtues of deliberate musical perversity

All great and relevant comments. I don't think anyone here will object to you reusing various quotes and repeating points - if we can stand to listen to hundreds of performances of the same songs by the same band, we should be able to enjoy some repetition of relevant quotations as well.

I love the element of "orneriness" in the band. I have a certain amount of fondness for some aspects of the band that is almost because of, not in spite of, the "ugliness". I'm thinking not of the prime early 70s dissonant jamming in this case, but more of things like the bizarreness of aspects of Weir.

One example is Weir's extremely peculiar falsetto vocal improvs attached to songs like Looks Like Rain, Estimated Prophet, Sunshine Daydream - this is something a lot of listeners absolutely hate, and I understand why they hate it, it sounds TERRIBLE and more or less absurd and incomprehensible. Despite this, I think it is great, and its greatness is inherent in how ugly and bizarre it is from a musical standpoint. Did Weir actually think these strangulated yelps sounded good?

Despite their obvious awfulness, I think Weir's vocalizations actually are actually artistically justified within the larger context of the music. There is a directness and intensity that I respond to, and I also don't mind the appearance of humor in music. I often laugh out loud at a ferociously shrieked "na - NA NA NANA!!!!" coming out of Estimated, its like surrealism. Definitely an acquired taste, nothing makes non-Dead listeners go WTF!? more than a middle-aged Bobby scat-singing freakout.

I'm less tolerant of Weir's slide playing in most cases, but sometimes I think its at its best when its at its worst - there is a certain "fireworks in the nitrous factory" sound to some of the more out-of-tune rapid slides at the top of the neck.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Space Jogger Date: Aug 6, 2011 10:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Playin->Scarlet->Playin and the limits of the GD style

As I was listening to the Weather Report Suite>WharfRat from 8/4/74 the other day I noticed this has a little something for everybody. Great WRS song performance, great sound, extended jams, jazzy interplay, a mini "tigerish" meltdown before going into a powerful and articulate Wharf Rat. Very enjoyable.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Aug 6, 2011 11:23pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Playin->Scarlet->Playin and the limits of the GD style

Thank you guys for these amazingly insightful comments! I always wish I had something intelligent to contribute, but I'm more content to just sit back and read :-)

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 6, 2011 10:01pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

While we're on the subject of summer '74, it might be worth mentioning that a new binaural AUD of 7/31/74 has come out, which not only is better than the old AUD but is said to equal Moore's 6/23/74 recording in quality. Look forward to it showing up here soon...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 6, 2011 10:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: TDIH 1974 – Best First Set Ever?

Exciting news. I am on the record as a huge fan of the Wall of Sound auds, the best 74 recordings just drip and ooze with presence and experiential richness in a really unique way. I wish I had an audiophile quality home stereo and a large acoustically correct listening room to hear them in, I know they would floor me even more under those circumstances.

There is an almost metaphysical quality to the aud vs sbd vs matrix debate, as to what captures the fullness of the music the best. (This is a good place for a random shoutout to Mr. Seamons, who I know reads this forum and often feels underappreciated. I love a good matrix! Thanks for your work.) Very cogent arguments can be made from each perspective, but thankfully, we don't have to choose, we can listen to everything, given sufficient time...